February 24

How My Good Friend Died

February 24, 2016

Addiction

Many years ago I was very unhappy, addicted to drugs, and suicidal. I achieved sobriety at a drug treatment center, but that was barely the first step toward true recovery At one twelve-step meeting, I met Jim, a pharmacist who for years had been addicted to the narcotics he dispensed to the people whose prescriptions he’d been filling.

Jim and I became good friends—personally, emotionally, spiritually. He was one of the first to believe in the principles of Real Love, and there was a blissful time when he had a happy marriage, good professional life, and healthy relationship with his children and grandchildren. He and I spoke often, and that frequent association seemed to contribute to his feeling loved and happy. I know his friendship enriched my life.

And then he began to withdraw. He stopped coming to twelve-step or Real Love meetings. One day his wife called and said that he’d been arrested for getting drunk and shooting a gun into the floor and walls of his home—with her screaming in terror.

Immediately I drove up to Jim’s home and spent some time with him. He seemed to appreciate my visit, but he wasn’t really listening. He was too immersed in the process of reducing his pain with drugs, alcohol, women, and withdrawal.

Soon Jim quit communicating with me, and in a couple of months I got a call from his wife. “Jim’s dead,” she said. He was found by his latest girlfriend dead in the bed next to her, overdosed with alcohol and drugs.

Jim was a very good friend. He was a generous and kind man, but he carried around wounds from childhood and as an adult that never fully healed. He was on his way to recovery, but pain overtook his capacity to feel loved. I was heartbroken to lose his companionship, as I was having seen similar patterns in many people. The attraction of reducing our pain is enormous, as is the inertia of old patterns of behavior.

The decisions we make every day have a life or death effect. Often, however, we just don’t see their impact in the short term. My friend didn’t see death creeping up on him, inch by inch, so it swallowed him up. Perhaps we will be more wise.

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